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Community Champions: YCCs provide a safe space for those affected by HIV.

Community Champions: YCCs provide a safe space for those affected by HIV.

As we commemorate World AIDS Day, we highlight Aurum Community Champions leading a transformative HIV treatment approach, making viral suppression a central focus.

Their mission is clear: encourage communities to take the lead in shaping how they receive care, live with the disease, and support one another. Their mission aligns with the UNAIDS World AIDS 2023 theme: "Let Communities Lead." The concept is rooted in recognising that organisations of communities living with, at risk of, or affected by HIV serve as the frontline of progress in the HIV response.

This commitment becomes even more crucial considering the global scenario in 2020, where 1.8 million children under the age of 15 living with HIV highlighted the pressing need for mental health support.

Under Dr. Thandi Ndlovu's guidance, Aurum Health Systems, with North-West Department of Health clinics, initiated Youth Care Clubs (YCC) in Bojanala district. “Through this intervention, we provide psycho-social support for adherence and virological suppression,” said Dr. Ndlovu.

Aurum Client Engagement Officers (CLEOs) collaborate with clinic nurses to support youth with living HIV. Youth Care Clubs offer educational information, interactive activities, and repeat treatments. Aurum CLEO Mmbonetshele Tshivhase invests time in counselling Tlhabane's youth, addressing challenges like denial, stigma, and peer pressure. “We needed a safe space in Tlhabane, where the youth feel accepted while adhering to treatment,” said Tshivhase. She encourages the youth through various activities, creating resilience against HIV challenges.

Aurum CLEO, Mmbonetshele Tshivhase

Tshivhase envisions collaboration with local leaders for healthcare alignment with community needs. “Community leaders should be involved in HIV awareness and campaigns. Effective mobilisation ensures HIV prevention and treatment success,” she said. This clinic partnership produced 28 YCCs in Bojanala, with a 93% viral load completion and a 63% suppression rate for children and adolescents. Six clubs achieved 100% virological suppression.

In the pursuit of a world without AIDS, communities are undeniably leading the way, with viral suppression emerging as a major achievement in this transformative story.

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